Before any bets were placed, Chris Albercht, Harrah’s Philadelphia senior vice president and general manager, stepped to the podium to share the excitement with the crowd.
“This has been a long time coming for us here. I’ve been in this industry for a while now, and I can’t think of one topic that has come up more than sports betting.
“We are finally here and couldn’t be more excited to present The Book.”
Harrah’s Philadelphia began the first of two days of supervised testing by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Tuesday. The grand opening took place on Thursday afternoon.
Cutting the ribbon on Jan. 24 of course means that The Book is ready to take bets on The Big Game. Harrah’s has special plans in the works so bettors and football fans can watch the Los Angeles Rams play the New England Patriots on Feb. 3. Yes, betting on The Big Game is now legal at six Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
Former Philadelphia Eagle makes first bet
Before officially cutting the ribbon on The Book, the Harrah’s Philadelphia team welcomed former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook to the podium. He also played college football at nearby Villanova University.
“Now anytime I am in Philly, I am going to bet on my Philadelphia Eagles and of course my Villanova Wildcats,” he told the crowd.
Well, it seems Westbrook is a man of his word. He placed the first official bet on Thursday afternoon. He bet on the Villanova men’s basketball team to win the national championship.
That would be the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats.
The Book sounds familiar
This is not the first time that The Book name has been used at a Caesars Entertainment property. The sportsbook at The Linq in Las Vegas goes by the same name. The temporary sportsbooks at Harrah’s and Bally’s in Atlantic City use it, too, along with properties in Mississippi.
Albercht said his team did speak with Caesars Entertainment colleagues in other markets during the planning and building process.
One of the big differences between Harrah’s Philadelphia and its sister properties in Atlantic City is, this 4,300-square-foot space is a permanent one. The Book is located in the back of the casino floor, taking over space previously designated “The Block.”
The Book at Harrah’s Philadelphia has it all
- 19 better-than-stadium lounge seats
- 11 high-top tables
- Bar seating
- 45 large screen televisions
- Food and beverage offerings “tailored specifically for game day”
- Nearby Party Pit with seven blackjack tables and one roulette table
- Self-betting kiosks, mobile ordering, and games (coming soon)
Sports betting hours
- Monday-Friday: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
- Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m.-12 a.m.
SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Hollywood Casino at Penn National opened their respective temporary sportsbooks toward the end of 2018. Parx Casino in Bensalem unveiled its temporary space on Jan. 10. South Philadelphia Turf Club, which is run by Parx, added sports betting on Jan. 24.
What about PA online sports betting?
Like the other Pennsylvania sportsbooks, Harrah’s Philadelphia is preparing to launch online sports betting. The exact date is still up in the air. The focus up until now has been on getting the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks up and running.
Like the Caesars Casino & Sports app that launched in New Jersey on Sept. 6, Harrah’s is partnering with Scientific Games on the technology end.
Albercht said the new app will have the same interface, but with a Pennsylvania component to it. Unlike in New Jersey, where online casinos launched first, the PA version of the app will offer just sports betting to start.
In terms of whether the odds will be better in Atlantic City or Chester, Albercht said they will most likely be the same across Caesars properties, but noted there may be slight adjustments.